About Keep Wales Tidy's Tidy Towns' work in Cardiff

Hi, my name is Chris Partridge and I am Keep Wales Tidy's Tidy Towns Project Officer for Cardiff. Activities we undertake are often in partnership with Cardiff Council's Parks Department (both waste services and Community Park Rangers) and Street Cleansing. We have organised events for several businesses across Cardiff and is happy to accommodate future requests. For more information you can contact Chris on 07717 412 270 or by Email: chris.partridge@keepwalestidy.org You can also follow me on Twitter for upcoming events @CardiffKWT

Friday, 28 December 2012

Working in a Winter Wetterland

December was very similar to November with a great deal of time and effort focussed into Wild Weekend Projects. Most of these were achieved from permissions granted from Parks Services to build on the hard work we have been doing over the last few years in some of Cardiff’s Green Spaces by constructing various habitat boxes including birds, bats or dormice. The Wild Weekend Grants came from WG, Homebase and CCW and the lucky grant winners received Homebase Vouchers.
Community Park Ranger putting a bat box up a tree from St. Bernadette's Primary School's efforts
We finished off the bat and bird boxes over in Ely with Ely Community Mums and Cardiff Trail Scrubs with help from Ely and Caerau C1st and Ely North Youth Centre. We just have to pick a date to put them up in situ in January.

We started two very similar projects over in Llanrumney and Lakeside, pairing up litter champions with Primary Schools; these were Glan yr Afon and Lakeside Primary Schools respectively. Both events were great fun and the litter champions really enjoyed it. Great stuff by Dave who made all the boxes himself from our designs and they looked pretty good too. The project in Lakeside was not a Wild Weekend project as it failed with its grant, but was a Tidy Towns-funded habitat project. The nice one about this project is that we again used Ian’s fence preservative which we rescued from a flytip over a fence along Wern Gethin Lane in St. Mellons from earlier this year.
Glan yr afon pupils with their camouflaged dormouse boxes
There was much worry this month over insurance of groups and we were kindly rescued for this year only by WG giving permission for Tidy Towns money to be used for this year only. From next year onwards, groups will seriously need to find ways of funding their insurance. For instance, my own group plan on having a supermarket bag packing session with our local primary school to raise money for the School and for the Nature Reserve.

Our Cardiff Friday Mornings Environmental Project (CFMEP) rolled along nicely in December with a visit to Llanrumney helping out our litter champion over there. On this trip we met a really nice new volunteer who is really keen to join in with our activities. Very, very slowly we are making progress against tough odds and difficult circumstances. The only way to make the changes is working with as many primary school kids as possible in this area. Anyway, the 10 of us cleared 37 bags of rubbish plus about 200kg of larger stuff out of the woods around Llanrumney Playcentre.
An early picture of the rubbish in Llanrumney
We are always excited about new opportunities and performing habitat and woodland works, so we gave a trial to a lovely project in Troedyrhiw, Merthyr where we made a set and finished off a partially completed set up steps down to the river. This is part of the Wild Fishing Wales project and even though it absolutely chucked it down, we really enjoyed it and will be returning again in January to help out again.

Oh it was so wet, well done you brave few

I also had a look at a 14 acre site in Blaenau Gwent which the Council have allowed our officer over there, Thom, to manage. Here we will set up a coppice block which will be part of a larger rotation managed by Thom. We will be felling trees, processing them and will use the brash to delineate the margins of our woodland block. Again we will be coming here in January and/or February.

All in all, a good year and an exciting few months ahead for us all.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Wild Weekends and Wild Weather all over November

November has been a bad month for the weather, but a great month for Wild Weekend Projects, with almost all of them not happening on the weekend and many more of them following in December too. We were lucky to get permissions from Parks Services to build on the hard work we have been doing over the last few years in some of Cardiff’s Green Spaces by constructing various habitat boxes including birds, bats or dormice. The Wild Weekend Grants came from WG, Homebase and CCW and the lucky grant winners received Homebase Vouchers. This meant several trips to Homebase with groups and especially on 10% or 15% off days. This followed by more days in the garage sawing up the planed spruce wood with a sliding mitre saw making sure all the kits were perfect. These would then be taken to the group or school and we’d build and paint them. The idea as always is to link up schools with groups or litter champions and build up real interest and ownership. Building these boxes and performing other habitat works on sites does exactly that. Hopefully, the camo painting will deter unwanted vandalism. Vandalism makes it more difficult for us to obtain permission to carry on performing such activities, may decrease motivation by the kids and hinder progress.

 St. Bernadettes. Putting the bird and bat boxes together.

St. Bernadettes. Nursery and Reception painting the boxes, with a little help from two artists from year 6
Cardiff Trail Scrubs, Ely & Caerau C1st and Ely Community Mothers get together to make Bird and Bat boxes for a Wild Weekend

We also helped Ely Baptist Church, Fairwater’s Waterhall Youth Centre and the St. Mellons Community Education Centre to plant some Wild Weekend spring bulbs. All these events were great fun with the kids and adults really enthusiastic about the work. These are always funny events as the end is always a little messier than the beginning and you have to keep your fingers crossed until Spring.

Ely Baptist Church plant bulbs for a Wild Weekend
Planting bulbs with the brilliant yet threatened St. Mellons Community Education Centre
Weeding and planting for a Wild Weekend at Fairwater's Waterhall Youth Centre
Waterhall Youth Centre Wild Weekend Bulb Planting
We are now up to 75 litter champions in Cardiff which will soon rise to 76 when our latest one signs up in Pentwyn. This was a result of us helping another litter champion to clear up an area on her patch. Like many litter champions, amounts of rubbish can go up and down and CFMEP (Cardiff Friday Mornings Environmental Project) are often on hand to lend Litter Champions a little extra help to bring the rubbish back down to manageable amounts. Behind Glyn Rhosyn, Pentwyn, we removed 17 bags of rubbish plus some loose items and it has really helped Claire out:

"Thanks so much for the help, it was good fun and lovely to meet the other people. My patch looks lovely now and it will be so much easier to keep the litter down now that the area has been given a good clean. I couldn't have done it without the help of the CFMEP people. They do such good work."

Pictures can be viewed here http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCUnUGr

So, if you have a patch that needs a little help, please get in touch.
Back in August, we cleared halfway along a green lane up from Crystal Glen with a local resident. Then we removed 26 bags plus about 300kg of loose items as well as a great deal of Himalayan balsam. Well, we returned here as promised but from the top end next to Llanishen Rugby Club’s building and worked our way down towards this halfway point. Over the two Fridays in November, we collected 54 bags of rubbish and 400 kg of loose items.
This is very reminiscent of our work in the olden days of Chapelwood and opposite St. Bernadettes school and instead of just tidying them up we need to get local action and support. Pictures can be viewed here:
Finally, it looks like we have another group who are interested in taking time out to try to clean up and area on a monthly basis with the aim to decrease the amount of litter dropped in the first place. They will work with local primary schools who have already performed tidy ups there and interact with the fishing community to help keen the area around Pentwyn Lake Clean. They hope to start early in the new year, so if you are interested in joining in there, give me a shout via chris.partridge@keepwalestidy.org

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

October hibernations and colonisations

As I mentioned last time, September is the busiest month of the year and I put in nearly 2 months worth of work in September, so I had the first 2 weeks of October off on flexi. This gave me a chance to have a look at projects in other parts of the country with new eyes. One of these was in my home town of Wallsend where I spoke to a local user of a Country Park, developed on an old Coal Mine from 1987. The litter and dog fouling there is a big problem and I talked to him about Keep Wales Tidy and the litter champion scheme that we have here and he said he wished that it also covered the north-east of England. Secondly, after telling my Dad about some of the things we do in Cardiff linking litter champions with Primary Schools, my Dad got in touch with the nearest primary school to him and now he volunteers there using his excellent gardening skills and the kids, the teacher and my Dad are loving it. Far too often teachers and assistants are given tasks that they know little about and are expected to just run with it (It is not just schools that this happens in that’s for sure). Well, by joining up with local expertise the teacher can quickly gain skills, knowledge and the confidence to better perform these activities. This ramble leads nicely into a lovely project in Bute Park that we were asked to do. The dock feeder, which we have pulled balsam, dug out invasive maples and cleared rubbish from, has several patches of bank which is eroding into a lottery funded footpath. We were asked to pilot a bank shoring up, or revetment, project to stop this erosion. I’d never done this before with recycled plastic revetment boards and posts, so 2 of my experienced colleagues, Thom from Blaenau Gwent and Paul from Merthyr came along to try out a feasibility 10 m section. I watched, took photos and helped in parts and it turned out to be hard work but do able.

I reckon it looks pretty good. For the only CFMEP event of the month, we finished it off by sawing the tops off the stakes, dressing the silt backfill with topsoil and added a little wildflower seed mix on top.

Carefull readers would know that we created a pond in Splott with Ysgol Glan Morfa, South Splott Residents’ Association, several church groups and physical help from John Lewis. The pond cost about £370 altogether. We only planted it in April of this year, but I led its first pond maintenance project later on this month. Armed with nets a much rake and sample trays, we killed 2 birds with one stone, we removed some overgrown pond weed and looked into the pond weed to see if it was starting to be colonised. The kids were split into 3 groups each time and were led by a local volunteer. I was extremely surprised at how well it was colonised and the best find of the day was a damselfly larva. These invertebrates can tolerate only good quality water, so that is brilliant news.

So, we built the pond with hardly any money, involved children and local residents to become stakeholders in the project from the very beginning and now we have seen that the pond is starting to be colonised beautifully already. Moreover, the children and adult volunteers know now how to do basic pond management. In a 2-3 years time we will also have to thin out the native plants that we put in there, but a great result all round. £300 of this money was from a grant from Cardiff Council’s Tidy Towns allocation and we’ve demonstrated how we can carefully spend this money with a fantastic cost/benefit ratio. Moreover, this pond can be used as a started pond for similar projects throughout Cardiff.

We now have 69 litter champions in Cardiff which is absolutely amazing (5 more waiting for kit). The latest spattering was in North Whitchurch. Over the last 2 years we have signed up quite a few in and around the Coryton roundabout which is a constant litter (including shopping trolleys) nuisance. During the coastal path clearance in Atlantic wharf earlier on in the year, 4 walking ladies joined in and said they were interested in doing some tidy ups somewhere and at some point. In September, they joined in with a clean up with Hollybush Residents’ Association, Coryton Primary, Barclays and Coryton Primary School (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCbKY78). They got in touch this month and asked to set up a group based around the North Whitchurch area. They are called Cardiff Tidy Taffs, so keep an eye out for one of their monthly tidy ups and several of the local litter champions are keen to join in to get some help. If you want to be on their mailing list, get in touch.

On the subject of finding out things, many years ago when I did some survey work for Monmouthshire Council I came across the Monmouthshire Green Web site, which had lists of events, groups and other green/outdoor related activities and opportunities. Several years ago Adansdown C1st and Adamsdown Environmental Action Group created a Green Map for Adamsdown which listed things like schools, gardens, litter problem areas and other useful information. These approaches are altruistic in their benefit to all. There have been many times, where I have thought, I’m tired and I just want to know what is on in Torfaen or Monmouthshire that I can just join in with. Well if you type in “Events in xxxxxxx” Google you get loads of sites and it is really difficult to find information. In today’s difficult environment when everyone claims to be a community hub, a third sector body blah blah blah, it is so difficult to find the basic information that can help community groups grow. Cardiff Transition Group also knows this as they are all involved in voluntary action groups in Cardiff. As such, several months ago they set up a GreenMap for Cardiff and this lists groups, activities, contact details etc. The map link is here: http://cardifftransition.com/mapping and the events page here: http://cardifftransition.com/events-home The map is cluttered (you can filter what you are interested in) and the calendar in its early stages of development, but it truly serves this altruistic purpose. It is definitely worthwhile thinking about engaging in this mapping system even if it is only to check and see what might be going on in Cardiff on one of your free days.

I have been very busy all this week on Wild Weekend projects and in Ely Baptist Church we planted some bulbs for wildlife and they planted some wildflower seeds the next day without me after I showed them how to do it.

Finally, I have also been busy trying to work out how to make bat and hedgehog boxes from wood available from Homebase as part of the Wild Weekend scheme. This is because the wood is completely different from the wood that we would normally use for these projects. These will be appearing in and around Cardiff and Torfaen in the next few weeks.

Friday, 28 September 2012

September, busy like the squirrels

I joined Keep Wales Tidy in August 2010, so a few years ago now. The first thing I had to do was organise the Great Taff Tidy events in Cardiff. After I let my hair down for a cuppa, I then had Tidy Wales Week (TWW) to do at the end of September. Well the same thing happened this September with Tidy Wales Week, officially from the 17-23rd, but extending earlier each year by a few hours followed by a deadline for the Wild Weekend grants on Wed 26th September. Well I did loads for TWW and also had a hand in 11 Wild Weekend grants, so fingers crossed for all of those.

For TWW, As far as I can see, Cardiff Rivers Group started it off this year down in Atlantic Wharf area doing some really important clearance work on Allied British Ports (ABP) land. Their story and information can be found here http://cardiffriversgroup.blogspot.co.uk/. it is a great example of how volunteers can be used to do brilliant and valuable work without needing to be directly supervised, just educate and empower. After events on Flatholm and in Adamsdown with EAG, the week really started for me with the launch event in Roath Brook. Here I encouraged Marlborough Primary School to adopt a stretch of Roath Brook in Roath Mill Gardens, just down the road from the school. Here is an example of a really lovely park with relatively little litter, plenty of dog fouling, but the litter you can see stands out a mile as it is on the steep banks and in the stream itself. The plan is to train up the school so they can act like a mini-Cardiff Rivers Group in this stretch. Moreover, I’ll teach them how to perform water quality surveys, how to identify and report invasive plants (in the case of Himalayan balsam how to pull it up) and maybe to survey the wildlife. Importantly, their presence and efforts has already attracted some local volunteers to help out and will certainly affect the behaviour of some of the dog owners who aren’t so responsible. For pictures see here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCa99gp
From the banks and in the stream, Marlborough Primary School and local vols
Marlborough Primary in the Roath Brook.
Keep Wales Tidy have now helped 2 contrasting groups to keep a stretch of Roath Brook clear of litter. Their patches are only separated by private ownership near Penylan Library. One group is young aspiring environmentalists from Marlborough Primary and the other of a more mature standing, Cardiff and District Soroptimists. If I am lucky, and it works really well, some of the pupils may even go out with the Soroptimists out of school time.

Friends of Bute Park have been brilliant again going out 4 times altogether during the week and they have some great stuff on their facebook site: http://www.facebook.com/Bute.Park.Cardiff
Cylch are another group putting their money where their mouth is and looked like they had great fun along the barrage. You can have a look at their blog entry here. Well done to Emina and the gang.
One of the big things I have been doing for sometime is encouraging schools to come out and play as they often make a huge impact. Over in the Lakeside area I joined up one of our Litter Champions with the school and they’ll be going out to tackle some local areas: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCaoCfd
In Discovery Woods with Lakeside Primary and local litter champion Ian

We have also had great success in Chapelwood Woods with St. Philip Evans http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCcJPrY, the woods opposite St. Bernadette’s in Pentwyn http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCbbQuG & Coryton Primary School & the Hollybush Estate http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCbKY78. In Chapelwood, in Feb 2011 BT helped us pull out 37 bags and ½ tonne of rubbish filling up a Parks Services transit. In Sept 2011 for Tidy Wales Week St. Philip Evans and I pulled out 35 bags plus 100 kg of rubbish. This time we pulled out just 10 bags. In the woods opposite St. Bernadette’s. CFMEP pulled out over 50 bags of rubbish and 1/3 of a tonne across January 2011, in Jan 2012 CFMEP and the School pulled out 35 bags, 75 dog poo bags and a bottle of sick from this small woodland. For Tidy Wales Week 2012, St. Bernadette’s pulled out  just 6 bags of rubbish and 10 dog poo bags up a tree (small dog by the looks of the poo). So our aim here is to target this irresponsible owner with the children and to address the tipping of garden waste into the edge of the woods. The children all know the answer “Put the poo bag in a bin, not up a tree and put your green waste into the green bins or a compost bin”.
St. Bernadette's making a start

St. Philip Evans Primary making a difference in Chapelwood

Holybush Residents' Association working with Coryton Primary School cleaning up the estate and making a start on behaviour change.

I started working recently with the newly formed Chapelwood Residents Federation and these guys are great. To make things flow even easily, loads of the kids on the estate have done activities with me from their schools or from the amazing Llanedeyrn Playcentre, so as we went around on our TWW event, loads of kids joined in with us. A young Dad stopped me part the way through and asked if their 4 kids could join in. I happily got some more pickers for them and the 2 girls especially got stuck into removing some of the graffiti that was around the estate. It is a great start for these guys and 4 of the kids have asked to be KWT Litter Champions and I am awaiting parental permissions. One of these has already planned a schedule for the litterpicks. How promising is that?

These kids want to live in a nicer world on Chapelwood Estate (removing graffiti)
Cleaning up the information panel in Chapelwood, It might be a bit "Life of Brian" but no capital G and where's the apostrophe'?

For a map of all TWW events in Cardiff see here: http://goo.gl/maps/KF3Kb

One of the nicest projects CFMEP have been involved with has been with Bereavement Services in Llandaff Cathedral Cemetery. We have been given complete trust in helping to improve part of the old site. we pulled up some balsam and are digging up rubbish from under a bridge so it can be surveyed and there are some great monuments that are hidden under vegetation. One of the nice parts are watching some of Barrie's boys tidying up around one of the great features which are seats around great yew trees.

 Barrie's boys make a tidy job

Sue's bit

Just to end, I've been a bit reflective of late, must have something to do with selling my massive BMW motorbike, when I was a youngster I always wondered why my Mum & Dad had stuff like the Kinks & Moody Blues in the house when there was so much cool music around. I was in the car the other day and put on an album of my youth Megadeth's Rust in Peace and thought "oh it is just so good". I realised that it is now over 20 years old and it still sounds as fresh as the day I bought it from Woolworths one lunchtime from School the day it came out. I'm not sure it means I've grown up though.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Tidy Wales Week Events in Cardiff Sep 17-23rd

Here is a map of all the , so if you just want to join in with an event for Tidy Wales Week, look at the map below for locations, dates and times. These will be updated daily when I get this information. Some meeting times and locations may alter so check the map and email the contacts on each event just in case.

View Tidy Wales Week in Cardiff in a larger map

For more information on events in Cardiff, contact Chris Partridge on chris.partridge@keepwalestidy.org or 07717412270

To get a TWW registration form download from:
or email tww@keepwalestidy.org

Saturday, 1 September 2012

August Update

An exciting month this month with efforts on Himalayan balsam with the knowledge that the pulling season is nearly over, but with the disappointment that there is a huge area untouched. In total I’ve been directly involved with 55 Himalayan balsam events this year from late June until the end of August. This has involved a massive 403 volunteers of which 154 were completely new to the Himalayan balsam world. These volunteers put in a massive 642.5 voluntary hours. Seasoned veterans Cardiff Rivers Group have been pulling it up and new group Cardiff Trails Scrubs have had their first experience of tackling the plant mainly on the Ely near Leckwith. We’ve educated and informed the Mill Road Group who dived in with enormous enthusiasm on the Ely just downstream from Birdies lane bridge on the Fairwater side (I think the stress release of the work swung it for them almost more than anything else). The group enjoyed it so much that they were disappointed that they had to stop and now have to wait until next year. Pics here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjBesR7d http://flic.kr/s/aHsjBnn8BY http://flic.kr/s/aHsjBsgbZU
Left. Around 90 ft of balsam before you can get to the river, and nothing but balsam (30th July). Right. You can see the river now with an area of 80 x 140 feet of balsam cleared by the Mill Road + Group (Aug 16th).
Awareness raising is one of those tasks where you can invest a lot of time and if an event has few people, for example it is pouring of rain can be almost a waste of time. However, this month in Fairwater, Friends of Cardiff Dogs Home and Fairwater Communities First organised a Dog Show behind Fairwater Leisure Centre and it was heaving with people and their dogs. On 2 separate occasions on the day groups of youths came up to my table and asked if they could litterpick the whole area. They collected about 3 big bags of rubbish and it was remarkable. They weren’t in school and it wasn’t an organised event with a youth centre. Over the past 2 years, I’ve invested efforts in Waterhall Youth Centre working really closely with the brilliant Communities First Team (why have Cardiff Council let these amazing people go?), we’ve litterpicked, made dormouse boxes as part of last year’s Wild Weekend and Cardiff Park’s Services gave us some daffs to plant and we planted a load of daffs in the dark outside Fairwater shops with some of these kids. This small investment from me and a few others has led to them caring enough that they wanted to make a difference. These kids don’t know much about section 42 wildlife, they don’t really understand sustainable development, was it time well spent as a Keep Wales Tidy Officer or value for money from a Welsh Government Tidy Towns point of view? I like to think so.
Some of the kids helping out at Fairwater Dog Show (Ben, Right Right, earned his Goodies in Hoodies Hoodie last year with the work he did making dormouse boxes with me for Wild Weekend)
Last year for Wild Weekend in some places, we made dormouse boxes and these were made from plywood. What I found in some places, is that the wood quickly starts to rot, but they stand out in situ. I had a little idea about this and set up a trial event at Llanedeyrn Playcentre. I have done a reasonable amount of work here and with the kids, we have regular litterpicks of the adjacent woods, we have pulled the Himalayan balsam here for the past 2 years and also put up 3 bat boxes which haven’t been vandalised even though they are pretty obvious. Anyway, we put together 3 dormouse boxes from left over materials and then decided to get creative. Using a dark brown and dark green wood preservative, we camouflage painted the dormouse boxes, so they will be better hidden in situ and also have some wood preservative quality. These will come in handy for Wild Weekend events (for more info on Wild Weekend go to http://keepwalestidy.sequence.co.uk/campaigns/wild-weekend-2012) Pics here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjBqLgZw
Just some of the kids at Llanedeyrn Playcentre who helped to build and trial camo paint a few dormouse boxes.

We’ve just started out performing a really nice project in Llandaff Cathedral Cemetery in partnership with Cardiff Council’s Bereavement Services (who have just taken over the site management) and Conservation and Policy Group. The initial point of the work was to organise volunteer events around Prichard Bridge just to the north of the Cathedral. The Conservation and Policy group need to inspect the bridge to see how they can best preserve it. However, the bridge has trees around it, landslides on both sides of the arches and loads of potentially hazardous litter under it. While on a site visit with all partners, I noticed that there was Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed, rosebay willowherb, buddleia and it was extremely wild. Bereavement Services have given us almost carte blanche undertake almost any improvement works, habitat or otherwise. Like many parts of local authorities across Wales, there isn’t always capacity to do all the things they’d like to do, so with our help and expertise, we can do some really nice stuff here, with volunteers, schools and even to help them set up a voluntary group to achieve this. They will then be able to support this work in ways in which we can’t easily do and everyone benefits at this amazing site. So for our first event, we just pulled a large patch of balsam and on the last event, we performed 3 activities; litterpicking, balsam pulling in the thick brambles and clearance of one of the landslide sides of the bridge. Pics here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjBFiKEC http://flic.kr/s/aHsjBPcvtq and a map showing some of the progress of our work can be viewed here: http://goo.gl/maps/OFEgc.
Top. Boys working on clearing and sorting the landslide. Bottom left. Intact 40 year old plastic sweet wrappers found in the landslide. Bottom Right. Most of the vols.

Don’t forget to register a Tidy Wales Week event Sep 17-23. However if you can’t fit one in then, but can either side, just let TWW@keepwalestidy.org know (oh and let me know too please).

Finally, a quick thanks to Parks services and Street Cleansing for helping to remove rubbish after events this month, Communities First in Ely, Fairwater, St. Mellons & Llanrumney for being brilliant as per usual and helping out again this month, Lucy from Cardiff Council Tidy Towns and Danielle from Waste Education and Enforcement, Cllrs. Carter & Ali for performing proactive environmental work with and without us in their wards and Cllr. Govier for enthusiastically embracing the environment from so many angles.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Wild Weekend Wildflowers update

Struggling with ideas on what to plant for the Wild Weekend application? Here's a quick idea. Homebase stock a collection of wildflower mixes. The native wildflower collections include Wildlife (£3.09), Woodland (£3.09), Primrose (£2.55), Poppy (£1.99), Cornfield (£3.09) and Hedgerow and Verges (pic above, £3.09). These seeds can be sown in Sep/Oct or in spring (Mar-May). Primrose need to be sown outside over winter in a coldframe, thinned into 3 inch pots and then planted out with a 6 inch spread in final location. Instructions are given on the back of all the seed packets.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Tidy Wales Week and Wild Weekend

Tidy Wales Week
Something to make a note of is September 17-23rd is Tidy Wales Week. Groups and Litter Champions are encouraged to organise an event as part of our largest annual campaign. You can download a registration form here by clicking on the "registration form" and Emailing it back to tww@keepwalestidy.org.
Wild Weekend
Secondly, Wild Weekend returns again this year later in the year and anyone working on public land can apply for Homebase vouchers up to £200. You can download an application form and other information can be found here.

Wild Weekend project 2011

July's Update

Don't the months fly by when you update a blog.
Anyway, my first 2 weeks of July were spent on my summer holidays in a tent with wet gear where it rained like a proper summer should. Anyway, that’s why Gore-Tex is so expensive. I will not write an essay on my vacation, but I think it is important to say that it was spent half in the Yorkshire Dales and the other in the Lake District. Both magnificent, but I noticed signs in both which were very interesting. In the Dales, there were plenty of signs saying they actively encourage no bins and that people should take their rubbish home with them (http://flic.kr/p/cGtusW). The forestry commission are also doing this. However, this didn’t stop several DoE groups dropping crisp and tracker bar wrappers up Pen y Ghent in the dales and Helvellin in the Lakes. In the Lakes in Ambleside, another famous tourist spot, there were signs up about littering and dog fouling just like everywhere else, but other signs saying that local PCSO’s were pursuing a zero tolerance to littering and dog fouling in Ambleside. The clear link here, is that both depend heavily on tourism for its economy. Out of interest, there was an item in a really interesting hardware store museum in Cockermouth which they have no idea what it was for, any ideas anyone? See here: http://flic.kr/p/cGtsgW
Either side of my holidays I set up a massive series of events with loads of different schools across Cardiff aimed to get loads of kids interested in pulling up Himalayan balsam. I spend loads of time from June-august pulling this up with various groups and the key to success is numbers. There is no easier method than better hundreds of kids out there pulling it up. So I called it a Himalayan balsam pullathon and it involved 8 schools. Most of this was in Pentwyn and there is still loads of balsam there as in other areas, but there are a selection of pictures here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAfXaU7, http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAPf3RG & http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAfXhdm.
Pupils from St. Bernadettes pulling up balsam in the pouring rain
The important thing to remember with balsam is that you have to really stick to it. In LLanrumney for instance, there is simply too much of it present to seriously make an impact with the numbers that I have engaged with so far, but with CFMEP and Llanrumney Environment Group, Litter Champion Dave & Stella and Cardiff Rivers Group, we have cleared several small patches which will makes these area more manageable next year. We found several wildflower areas in one of the woods in Llanrumney and adjacent patches have no wildflowers whatsoever and this is what balsam does. Some pics here including some good ID photos: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjA3VQXG & http://flic.kr/s/aHsjA8T5d5.
The last part is part of a nice story where we have groups and individuals working along lost of parts of Roath Brook. The last of these is a local resident worried about flooding waters eroding banks and washing the soil around the roots of trees. There was plenty of evidence that this was happening, so we gave him a hand to unblock a section, pulling out some trolleys and sawing up some of the wood. Pics here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAPhU2Q.
Return of the Barrie and to Crystal Glen, Llanishen
We also found a few balsam plants which were not rooted in and showed them to the local resident. After the event, the local resident emailed saying he found a load of balsam upstream. We returned the next week, pulled out another 20 bags of rubbish and cleared the section of balsam. Pics here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAXxQb7. Worryingly, the site was racked with Japanese knotweed, which was certainly being washed downstream and in some places had re-established. As in many other places, knotweed in endemic and this flows into Roath Lake and down Roath Brook, where several groups perform loads of different activities.
Japanese Knotweed in the stream bank eroding away with stems and rhizomes downstream towards Roath Lake.

June's Update

I'm getting there with getting the blog up to date with June's update.

One of the nicest experiences of the month was receiving a letter via C2C from a 10 year old offering to give up her weekend time to help clear an area of land near her house which is often covered in rubbish. This rubbish comes partly from Taff Trail users and mainly from drivers along the A470 dumping stuff out of their windows. Anyway, young Ellie and her Dad are now litter champions and have made their first strides towards keeping this lovely patch tidy. The story will be in the next Capital Times for pics see here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzSG8xe.

Ellen, our youngest litter champion & friend
This time of the year is a big push, or rather pull for Himalayan balsam and loads of groups have been out pulling it. I’ve been working with loads of schools bringing them out and using the advantages of numbers to make a difference. Earlier this week I organised a Himalayan balsam pullathon in Pentwyn behind the Leisure Centre with local Schools from Pentwyn and Llanedeyrn taking part. For pics see here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAfXaU7.
Schoolchildren from St. David's and St. Philip Evans Primary Schools
For some time, where it has been difficult to try and form new groups but have some volunteers we have brought in Primary schools to help out. Kids make a real big difference and often their efforts have a much stronger effect locally than an adult group. Hollybush Estate Residents’ Association have also realised this and engaged the local Primary School to proactively address littering in this estate in Whitchurch. We had our first event on the 28th of June and this could be the start of something great and can really make a big difference to small groups coping with large problems. I can’t show the photos yet as we are waiting for permissions to publish. Nigel Pugh, a litter champion in Canton also uses the same techniques and we also had our first survey and litter event with Radnor Road Primary School http://flic.kr/s/aHsjA3H1X7. Crucially, these events are in public shared spaces not inaccessible areas behind a fence or within the school. These are steps to building the volunteers of the future that we crave so much.
Radnor Road Primary Litterpick
My CFMEP group has spent the whole month pulling up Himalayan balsam and mainly in Llanrumney where there is miles and acres of it. It is in the woodlands on the banks of the river, along the streams and is encroaching into the meadows that back onto the Park and Ride Car Park (we will not mention the miles of knotweed that is also here along the River). Anyway, we helped out local litter champion Dave who is tackling this pretty much by himself. Pics here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzWfPmS, http://flic.kr/s/aHsjA3VQXG & http://flic.kr/s/aHsjA8T5d5.

CFMEP in Llanrumney


Thursday, 16 August 2012

May's monthly update

I've been even more busy than usual recently, so updating some history from May onwards...
May (and early June’s) largest event was probably the final touches on the Pond in Splott. This was right on top of an old pond in Ysgol Glan Morfa. It was rebuilt and populated with native plants and it was surrounded by a greenwood fence and gate all for £370 (£300 Tidy Towns & £70 South Splott Residents’ Association). We involved the school, local Church Groups & Partners from John Lewis came along and prepared the wood and installed the fence. The kids from Ysgol Glan Morfa organised a grand opening day and dedicated the area to the memory of a much loved member of staff who had recently passed away. Everyone loves it and everyone really cares about it. Summary pics here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzokx73
Part of the pond in Ysgol Glan Morfa's grounds

This month saw the opening of the Wales Coastal Path, of which some passes along the Southern edge of Cardiff (Map here: http://flic.kr/p/bB22qg). We hosted several events along the coastal path in strong winds and torrential driving rain in Atlantic Wharf (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjz7brcm) to glorious conditions near Rover way with the largest ever CFMEP event with 30+people 90 bags of rubbish (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzD8khx)
Coastal Path Clean Up, 50 odd of the 90 bags collected
We did some beautiful clean ups along the Taff in Forest Farm where the trees where laden with sanitary towels. The sky however was blue, the water calm and afterwards the bank looked fantastic (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzrZ4Zv).
Forest Farm before and after
Did my first litterpick in leafy Llanishen and was rewarded with the find of the month of a slug which was at least 10 inches long (http://flic.kr/p/byFand).
10 inch slug
Did our first Chapel Wood tidy up between local school kids, who we have been working very closely with over the last 2 years, and local residents. This was a particular coup as initially, nobody was interested in doing anything in these neglected but beautiful woods (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzehTZA).
Residents, St. Philip Evans Primary School and Parks Services help clear Chapel Wood
Lastly, we have been developing links between Glyncoed Primary School and woods nearby to try and bring these back into community ownership and usage. Here with the after school eco-club, we winched a tree out from the stream, which would have attracted litter. Importantly, it was great fun and again helped to foster stronger local feeling towards these woods as an important amenity for quality of life rather than a dumping ground (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzfZGbJ).
Log rolling

Monday, 2 April 2012

Monthly update for March

This month could be summarised as a series of concentrated sprints filled with catching up with paperwork, missed calls and Emails.

The greenwood craft work at Riverside community Garden Project has taken off extremely well with the construction of the first 2 shave horses, a knee vice and the guys have made a start on their first greenwood pole lathe. They love doing things the hard way. http://flic.kr/s/aHsjyYZ5vT http://flic.kr/s/aHsjz3Rthx
Sam and Lewis on their shave horses
Referring back to greenwood, I returned to Chapelwood in Llanedeyrn to work with the kids from St. Philip Evans Primary School to help with their adoption of their local woodland. It is the second year that we have done coppicing here and the kids helped to measure the regeneration from last year’s stools as well as coppice and process the wood from 1 hazel stool. The Eco Club then helped me to make a greenwood bench from this material.  http://flic.kr/s/aHsjz44EMV The plan here is that the older kids teach the younger kids, the older kids leave the school and leave with a greater respect for the woods when they become “teenagers”. I deliberately put the older kids, who came last year, in charge to give them that personal responsibility which all of us adults do in our works to improve areas for everyone else.

Eco Club from St. Philip Evans Primary School coppicing their stool.

I believe we really need a greater emphasis on engaging especially younger children as these are the ones who may well be following through as the vols of tomorrow, if not today. We are pursuing this vigorously in Llanrumney where one litter champion is heavily supported by a monthly event, normally a litterpick with one or two primary schools http://flic.kr/s/aHsjyEC3BY.
Glan yr Afon join in a litterpick with Llanrumney Environment Group

Like in many places, there is an overwhelming volume of litter and by engaging more with primary school children, you can hopefully have an effect on stopping them just copying their older entrenched contemporaries who think littering is OK. One of the best examples recently has again been with St. Philip Evans behind Pentwyn Leisure Centre and letting the kids use grapple hooks to pull trolleys etc out of the stream. http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzf9g9P
Trainess from St. Philip Evans for the Cardiff Rivers Group

Bridging gaps between community groups, recruiting new volunteers and working with the very young are all things that Friends of Moorland Park, South Splott Residents Association and Ysgol Glan Morfa do very well. I was asked to help them reinstate the pond on the school grounds. That became a step closer this month the the final digging out of the old silt, replacement of the new liner and underlay. It was great fun, involved many people across the community and for £300 including plants, was paid for by Tidy Towns (the sand was donated by Travis Perkins) http://flic.kr/s/aHsjyAG3R3.
Getting the underlay ready; schools and community groups working together.

At KWT, it isn’t our job to tidy up places to help the council out, it is to support local people to take positive local action. One such event happened during one of the concentrated sprint weeks where the police organised a tidy up across Pontprennau with many partner organisations http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzcPiSX. While over there, I met a group of local residents who have been working really hard to keep their green space tidy, I gave them litter champion equipment and we had an impromptu session to clear a stream which was full of historic litter and had been choked by brambles http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzdRdGM.
Next time, we plan to cutback a footpath which has been almost completely lost to brambles. Local people have been going around it and have trampled woodland wildflower areas instead.

Another great example of KWT helping local people is up behind Glyncoed Primary School in Pentwyn. I mentioned the first Cardiff Friday Mornings Environmental Project (CFMEP) event there last month where we collected 23 bags in 2 hours with 3 people. Well, I ran a full day event with BT volunteers where we took out 61 bags plus a tonne http://flic.kr/s/aHsjyEBNXm and last Friday CFMEP returned to the next section with 5 people and we took out 35 bags plus about ¼ tonne of other stuff http://flic.kr/s/aHsjyLr3fq. So altogether, over 3 events we cleared 119 bags and about 1.5 tonnes of loose rubbish. This has made it much easier for Glyncoed Primary School to be in a position to be able to adopt this green stretch.
Some of the haul from woods and stream behind Glyncoed

It was very sad to see from Tuesday’s BT event to the Friday after, the amount of cans, bottles, sweets and crisp packets that were present on the paths. This is a sight that is reproduced across not just Cardiff, but in Torfaen where I live too (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjziV9X2). Many litter champions have written to me basically saying exactly the same thing, some almost to the point of packing it in. This is obviously what we do not want to do, so I was driven to a comment made to me by my colleague in Blaenau Gwent (Thom Board). He said Blaenau Gwent Council have been having great success with hiring a private litter enforcement company called Xfor. 40% of all the fines goes back into education. In 3 months, they gave out 600 fixed Penalty Notices and in 6 months this was 1,000. OF the 1,000 so far 500 have been paid in full. If 5p for a carrier bag has changed a nation’s behaviour, what would a properly enforced £75 fine do?